Ohio's First District Court of Appeals Uses Innovative Technique in Lattimore v. K & A Market, Inc., 2016-Ohio-5295
Ohio's First District Court of Appeals, which covers Cincinnati/Hamilton County, recently decided the case of Lattimore v. K & A Market, Inc., 2016-Ohio-5295. It was an appeal in a "slip-and-fall" case.
Essentially, the Plaintiff went into K & A Market (which I'm pretty sure is the corner store you see when you come downtown on West Clifton and continue straight onto Vine), tripped on a "rise at the edge of a handicap ramp" and fell. As soon as she went in, she became fixated on a "snack rack" (I love the word choice by the Court of Appeals) and turned towards it without paying enough attention to see the rise at the edge of the handicap ramp. The opinion states: "Ms. Lattimore says she was 'barely in the front door' when she became so distracted by a bright display of potato chips and other snacks that she was oblivious to the rise on the floor." She must have been hungry.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the rise at the edge of the handicap ramp was an "open and obvious" risk. In Ohio, the "open and obvious doctrine" is very strong, and summary judgment is often granted to the defendant in slip-and-fall cases for that reason. The First District's decision was straightforward and not at all unexpected. What was unique was the use of a color picture in the opinion. The opinion states "This is a case where a picture is truly worth a thousand words," and then includes a color picture showing the handicap ramp. This makes sense and is highly effective. I have never seen a Court of Appeals do this before. The First District has proven to be a very modern Court of Appeals, even citing to wikipedia in the case of Definite Solutions Company vs. Sliper, et al.
The Lattimore case may be cited for years to come, especially in Hamilton County. However, the way in which it is cited will be interesting to see. Future defendants seeking summary judgment may include a copy of the picture in their motions for summary judgment, perhaps alongside a picture of the establishment at issue in that case. Presumably the picture can be cited by the number of the paragraph in which it appears?
Judge DeWine wrote the opinion, with Judge Mock and Judge Cunningham concurring.
Alex Durst is a Cincinnati personal injury attorney with The Durst Law Firm. Licensed in Ohio, Alex has also practiced in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Alex can be reached at (513) 621-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.